Today marks the beginning of the end for Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, as he announced he'll be retiring from the company within 12 months. No real specifics are known at this point other than he's voluntarily stepping down because it's time to retire. John Thompson, lead independent director of Microsoft's board of directors, has been appointed as head of the Special Committee to find Ballmer's replacement. It's unknown who that person will be, but Thompson is working alongside Bill Gates, chairman of the audit committee Chuck Noski, and chairman of the compensation committee Steve Luczo to find that person. Ballmer will also have some input on who succeeds him, and he'll continue to serve as CEO until that person is found.
Ballmer remains optimistic about Microsoft's future, and although there's never a perfect time to find a new CEO, now is as good as any. Microsoft does have a rough road ahead to try and gain ground in the mobile world, since Windows Phone 8 still trails soundly behind Google Android and Apple iOS. There's also the matter of Windows 8 not being as popular as hoped (maybe Windows 8.1 will help), but hopefully that'll all be addressed whenever the new CEO takes the reins. For his part, Ballmer praised what Microsoft has done since it originally started, and admitted that Vista is his biggest disappointment from his time as CEO (doesn't take much to wonder why). He does plan to stay in Seattle once he's officially retired, and who knows, maybe he and Bill Gates can team up to save the world.